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Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016

PREMATURITY AWARENESS MONTH

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Premature births are the number one killer of babies

November is the official March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Month. With more than 50 international partners, March of Dimes seeks to turn the world’s attention to the serious problem of premature birth.

Births are considered premature when the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. In response, March of Dimes has launched “Give Them Tomorrow,” a universal call to do something today to help moms and save babies, while raising awareness about the fight against premature birth.

Jessica Lowe Hall, executive director of the March of Dimes North Central Louisiana, is geared up for this month of awareness. As a mother herself, Hall relates in a personal way. “This cause is extremely important to me because I am what we call a ‘Mission Mom’,” Hall said. “I’ve directly been impacted by the mission of March of Dimes.”

Premature births are the number one killer of babies, and the leading cause of death in children under the age of five around the world. In the United States alone, an estimated 380,000 babies are born too soon every year, which averages to about 1 in 10 and is a higher rate than most other highresource nations.

Babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems; including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays. There are so many challenges for these babies that often their families feel that tomorrow is just a dream.

“I have two children – Hunter, 16, and Hannah Beth, 11 – who were both born prematurely,” Hall said. “Hunter was born at 32 weeks, and Hannah Beth at 36. While Hannah Beth had no long-term effects, Hunter did not fare as well. He has autism as a result of his prematurity.”

Hall’s story is like many others – and is very close to the heart. “Our outcome of autism is not uncommon, and many families face more difficult times,” Hall said. “Premature birth is a huge problem, but March of Dimes has the innovation to solve it. We are working to help every expectant mother carry to term and ensure that every baby has a fighting chance.”

Purple is the official color of March of Dimes. “Purple is the color that represents our cause: premature birth,” Hall explained. “The March of Dimes is a global leader in the fight against premature birth, and people from all over the world will be going purple for various ways throughout November to spread awareness that premature birth is common, serious and costly.”

There are many fun and creative ways for the community to get involved in the Prematurity Awareness Month in November.

Some of those ways include the Color Me Purple Contest options, where locals are encouraged to create contests at their work force, schools or homes to see which individuals, teams or departments can wear the most purple from head to toe. “Think headbands, hats, socks, shirts, accessories, even hair color,” Hall said. “If you can wear it, make it purple!” Opportunities and social media hashtags for the March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Month include:

SHOUT OUT: Share your baby’s first milestones at #babysfirst with social media; REACH OUT: Send message of hope to a family with a baby in the hospital newborn intensive care unit (NICU), and March of Dimes will hand-deliver it; HELP OUT: Engage/raise awareness during Prematurity Awareness Month and/or on World Prematurity Day on Nov. 17.

Go Purple!: Wear purple and/or light your home and/or office building in support of Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day. Share the ways you’re going purple in social media with the following official hashtags: #givethemtomorrow and # worldprematurityday.

“Every baby deserves a fighting chance,” Hall said. “Together, we can give them tomorrow.”

– Tara Bullock

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